How the Falcons will beat the Rams


The Falcons and Rams are both entering Sunday's showdown at Mercedes-Benz Stadium looking to end a losing streak. Atlanta (1-5) has dropped its last four while Los Angeles has lost three consecutive games after beginning the year with a 3-0 mark.

The Falcons offense, led by Matt Ryan, has gotten back on track the last two games. Ryan currently ranks first in completions, attempts and touchdown passes, and second in passing yards while the Falcons rank 16th in points scored and seventh in yards.

The Falcons are also on a roll when it comes to playing the Rams, too. Atlanta has won five straight against the Rams and seven of the last eight meetings.

Can they keep it going Sunday? I asked writers Kelsey Conway and Will McFadden to weigh in and what the Falcons will need to do in order to earn their second win of the season. I'll offer my key to victory at the end.

Kelsey Conway: Not let Aaron Donald takeover the game. The last time the Falcons played the Rams in 2017, the Falcons limited Donald's production and it made a difference once they started running the ball and taking the pressure off Matt Ryan. Donald is capable of stealing momentum and the Falcons can't let him get going early on. If the Falcons are able to contain him and not let him control the line of scrimmage, I like the Falcons chances to move the ball on offense. The Falcons are going to have to score 30-plus points to win this game and they can't do so if Donald is in Ryan's face all day.

Will McFadden: The Falcons have not recorded a sack in three straight games, so let's start there. Atlanta has five sacks on the season, and three of those came against the Eagles, which is also the team's one win thus far in 2019. Is that a coincidence? No, I don't think so. Jared Goff is not Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson or Kyler Murray, so the Falcons shouldn't have to worry about him getting outside of the pocket. I'd like to see the defense pin their ears back and come after Goff, and hopefully, that will spark a win at home.

Tabeek's take: Keep the momentum going on offense and force a turnover or two on defense – because I think the Falcons are going to need some extra possessions to beat the Rams. We saw the Falcons offense hitting on all cylinders against the Cardinals and a big reason why is because they got Devonta Freeman going. Freeman ran it 19 times for 88 yards and also caught three passes for 30 yards and two touchdowns. That opened things up in the passing game – both Austin Hooper and Julio Jones had more than 100 yards receiving as Matt Ryan completed 30 of 36 for 356 yards and four touchdowns. While the Falcons ultimately came up short, they still managed to score 33 points, marking the second time in as many weeks they've scored 30-plus points. Atlanta is going to need to score points against the Rams, and if the defense can give them one or two extra possessions, it should go a long way.

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